The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, yesterday disclosed that 21 persons,
including a nurse, have been quarantined in Enugu State.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, the minister said the nurse had primary contact with the late Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, who brought the disease to Nigeria.
“The nurse travelled to Enugu from Lagos against instructions not to leave Lagos State. 198 persons are currently under watch by the Ministry of Health to contain further spread of the disease,” he said.
Of the 198 persons under surveillance, he said 177 of them are in Lagos while 21 are in Enugu following the nurse’s travelling to the state.
He said: “All those who had primary contact have been quarantined. Secondary contacts have also been traced. So far, the number of people that have been traced is 198. Out of this number, 177 are in Lagos and are being traced. Some are in quarantine; some are being monitored by health specialists.
“Twenty one persons in Enugu are also being watched. This is because one of the nurses that was involved with the treatment of the index case, but unfortunately disobeyed medical instructions and somehow travelled to Enugu.
“All those she had contact with, including her husband, are under quarantine. The medical team has been able to trace all those who made contact with her,” Maku said.
He urged members of the public to discountenance rumours and unverified reports over the Ebola epidemic and that the government would prosecute anybody spreading rumours that damage public health.
“Health workers are now in all our border units. All the entry points into this country and exit points, we have port health workers that are working in our airports and seaports.
“We are calling on citizens specifically to cooperate. If health workers say you have had contact with A,B,C, don’t move to anywhere, respect that judgement. It is very important.
“In one or two cases where we have had disobedience, we lost one of them and this one now moved with it to another place (Enugu). So we are urging Nigerians, to please help us in making sure that all these messages and appeals we are making, we implement them,” the minister said.
Stressing that the preventive measures have been communicated to state governors, Maku said that they had been invited again to be briefed by the Federal Government on further collaboration to stamp out the disease from the country.
He insisted that the disease had no recorded cure and debunked the report that there was Ebola case in Abuja.
“The Ministry of Health set up a special committee specifically to take claims from Nigerians who believe they could help and so far we have had a lot of reports from Nigerians at home and abroad who come forward to say they have possibility of developing therapies that could help in fighting the virus.
“There is no cure so far anywhere in the world. Even the trial drug in the US is still a trial drug, it has not been established.
“One of the doctors and research experts that came forward was Dr. Simon Agwale who has been one of the frontline global researchers on developing vaccines for HIV and other viral diseases.
“He also said he could help both in terms of working out to develop a vaccine, which he said he has started work on between himself and his fellow experts in the US and he said this is ongoing.
“The minister of health has given support and directed him to the committee. He also discussed the possibility of certain therapy which could be applied. And again that is being discussed. And once it is approved, it could be used,” Maku added.
During the FEC meeting, automatic hand sanitiser was brought in and President Jonathan, Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola and some governors sanitised their hands.
The machines are to be stationed in strategic places for private and public use.
Meanwhile, there was pandemonium on Tuesday at the Orile-Agege General Hospital, Agege, Lagos, when a patient with suspected symptoms of the disease, was brought to the hospital for medical care.
It was gathered that the patient, who was brought into the hospital in the morning was bleeding as health workers, including nurses, doctors and other patients in the hospital fled the hospital to avoid been infected.
Our correspondents also learnt that the patient had come to the hospital last week complaining of fever, but re-appeared on Tuesday with blood purportedly coming from his body.
Everybody in the hospital scampered to get away from the patient as the hospital was deserted for fear that the patient might have contacted the deadly virus.
A health official, who did not want his name mentioned, told journalists that such case was reported at the hospital on Tuesday and that the patient was suspected to be down with Ebola virus.
According to her, authorities of the Orile-Agege General Hospital called the Ifako Ijaiye General Hospital that they have a patient to refer to it as they did not have the wherewithal to hand the case.
The Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital reportedly declined, saying the state Ministry of Health had ordered that nobody should touch the patient as government was coming to pick him up.
Officials of the Lagos State Government, it was gathered, picked up the patient and the man who brought him to the hospital and took them away for Ebola test.
Efforts to get the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, to confirm the story was unsuccessful. His Public Relations Officer, Bosun Ogunbamwo, said he had gone to Abuja.